A Swedish pilot was flung out of his aircraft by a malfunctioning pair of hi-tech trousers, it has been revealed.
The incident, which took place last week, was reported in The Local yesterday. It seems the stick-jockey in question was a Swedish air force officer flying a Saab Gripen fighter.
Fighter pilots typically wear a "G-suit", also known as "speed jeans". This is a pair of special inflatable trousers which are automatically pumped up as G-forces build up in high-energy manoeuvres. The squeeze on the pilot's legs prevents all his blood draining into them, which helps in avoiding blackouts or tunnel vision.
In this case, however, it appears that the automated expando-pants tragically malfunctioned, triggering the luckless birdman's ejection seat and firing him violently out of the jet. The Gripen subsequently plunged to total destruction in a remote region, but the pilot parachuted to safety.
Swedish forces investigators said it was "very likely" that the deadly trousers were to blame for the incident.
"When subjected to large forces the suit fills with air. This is thought to have affected the ejector switch," said Mats Helgesson of the Swedish central command. There was no suggestion, sadly, of any involvement by sinister artificial intelligence tech, perhaps wishing to rid itself of old-school fleshy control and fly free like its prospective American flying-robot brethren. This was a purely trouser-based disaster.
The rogue apparel is apparently used in all Gripens of the C and D marks, and as a result these planes are forbidden from exceeding 3G until further notice. Older A and B model jets don't use the Wallace-&-Gromit-esque strides, and can still be flown without restriction.
Thanks to Reg reader Mike Richards for the tip-off. ®